Yesterday, the front page of the Times carried a headline ‘Save Our Cyclists’ It is partly motivated by a young Times journalist, Mary Bowers, being involved in a very serious accident on her way to work in 2011. It was quite a surprise to see a major newspaper give their front page to improving cycle safety and promoting cycling in cities. The Times also identify different steps which would help make cities safer for cyclists. The Friday edition has more on how cycling can work in inner cities, and one mother’s fight against lorries in cities.
8 Steps to Make Cities Safer For Cyclists
- Trucks entering City centres should be fitted with sensors, audible truck turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists been thrown under wheels.
- Identify 500 of the most dangerous junctions and redesign them for safety.
- A National Audit of cycling to find how many people cycle, and most common cause of accident / death.
- Earmark 2% of Highway Budget for next generation cycle routes.
- Default Speed Limit of 20mph in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
- Improved training for cyclists and drivers. Cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
- Businesses should be involved in sponsoring cycle schemes such as Barclays backed super-highways – This helps make cycling be seen as an integral part of society.
- Every City should have a cycling commissioner to push for cycling ref ors.
All eight points make good sense, and it is good to say a major newspaper take such a clear stance in supporting common sense policies to improve safety in cities.
Some Cycle Statistics
- Risk of Death in UK per billion Kms cycled
- Rural A roads 313 – bn / Km
- Urban A roads 60 – bn / Km
- Rural minor roads 29 bn / Km
- Urban minor roads – 11 bn / Km
Shows we don’t just need safer cities, but also improved safety in rural areas. However, safety gains in urban areas will have bigger total effect because of much greater cycling volumes in urban areas.
- 111 cyclists were killed in 2010 – 7% increase from 2009.
- 2,660 cyclists were seriously injured in 2010.
- Cyclists three times more likely to be killed than the Netherlands.
- Cyclists two times more likely to be killed than in Germany or Denmark.
- 42% of Britain’s own a bike – 2.2% say bike is main form of transport
- More cycle statistics
It shows how Britain could be made safer for cyclists. Some might say highlight dangers might put people off, and cycling is still relatively safe. If you include health benefits of exercises, the small risk is perhaps outweighed by the great benefit.
But, the truth is most people, especially women, wouldn’t dare get on their bikes and cycle through big cities. It doesn’t feel safe to be negotiating roads with fast moving heavy lorries. This kind of campaign identifies practical steps to make things better.
Did I just praise a Murdoch newspaper? Well, I hope the soul of George Orwell will forgive me, but it does show cycle safety is not a political issue, but an issue of common sense.